I’ve been thinking of butterflies for a few weeks. Not just because it is summer and you are more likely to see one of them delicately perched on a flower in your garden at this time of the year more than any other. More because God’s been teaching me a few things using this beautiful insect. He is like that you know, He will teach you with natural things that you can easily relate to. It is His way of gently invading your everyday life with His loving presence just like when he walked with Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden – only better.
It all started with a picture that a dear friend got while she was praying for me.
She saw a beautiful butterfly with frail wings emerging from its chrysalis and she felt that it was a picture of me emerging from a restrictive envrionment into freedom. Something about that picture made me decide to look up the stages of development of the butterfly so that I could better understand what God might be saying to me. I am a sucker for information, which probably explains why I love to teach – I love finding out about things and then sharing them with others. It’s just how I am wired.
Anyway, I consulted Google – as one does. It didn’t take me long to find out all I needed to know about the four stages of the development of a butterfly: egg, larva (caterpillar), chrysalis and finally delicate-winged, beautiful butterfly. I am not going to go into great detail about these four stages (you can read that all by yourself on the internet), but something struck me about stage three, from chrysalis to butterfly – it is the most crucial. It is during this stage that the substance of the butterfly literally disintegrates in order to become sustenance for the developing butterfly. Everything but the imaginal discs – the DNA of the insect if you like – melts down during this stage to become unrecognisable mush. Something else, neither a caterpillar nor a chrysalis looks anything like a butterfly. In fact unless you are a three or four year old boy – the age at which they are enamoured by creepy crawlies – you probably think caterpillars are ugly and of no use to anyone.
The stage between the chyrsalis and the butterfly is also the longest. When you look at the chrysalis from the outside, there is no evidence of the intense development that is happening on the inside. But God is at work, as the next few hours soon show. At the risk of spiritualising this natural event, these butterfly stages could represent the different seasons we go through in our Christian lives. And for many of you, I believe that you are in this crucial third stage. This stage where it feels like all that you have known and found comfort in is being melted down and you have no idea what is going to be left at the end of it all. A stage where on the outside it seems as though nothing is happening and in fact it looks like you are standing still. A stage that looks ugly and and feels unneccesary. Not to mention painful.
I feel that the Father would say to you, ‘trust the process, for as surely as a beautiful butterfly pushes gracefully out of its chrysalis, a time will come when you too will emerge from your own shell. And the results will be just as ashtonishing.’ When the buterfly finally emerges from its chrysalis, its wings are very fragile. Over the next few hours as it flies about, its wings strengthen. And the cycle is complete. The butterfly can now fly from flower to flower, fulfiling God’s purpose for its life, pollinating the flowers and contributing to the propagation of new life.
So if like me, you find yourself in this season of melting, take heart. Though it may not feel like it, your Father (God) is at work. He never fails to complete what He started. There is no one more faithful. Now everytime I see a butterfly – and they seem to be popping up everywhere, in clothes, magazines, jewelry etc. – it is as though the Father is reminding me to keep my focus on the end result of the season I find myself in. This end result is like the butterfly – beautiful, free and designed for a purpose. One that includes helping to propagate new life. Then I remember what the apostle Paul said:
And I am certain that God who began the good work within you will will continue His work until it is finally finished on then day when Christ Jesus returns ( Philippians 1:5 – NLT)
Trust the process.
In His Precious Name,